The Aviatrix

Idaho’s First Female Commercial Pilot

By Richard Bennett

While waiting at the baggage carousel at the Boise Airport for my luggage to be returned, a photo in a gallery on the west wall caught my eye.

I walked closer and looked harder. It was her, all right: Elaine McCalley, standing in front of a huge 1930s-era airplane engine, one of its radial pistons and its manifold clearly visible just behind her right shoulder. Her dark curly hair brushed against a broad wooden propeller, and her ever-present smile was unmistakable. She looked young, girlish, carefree, and happy to be photographed. Her proud bearing clearly conveyed a connection to the flying machine behind her. Until that moment, I hadn’t known that the mother of one of my childhood friends, who lived around the corner from me when I was a kid—a homemaker with a husband and two children, a regular mom who worked part-time keeping books for the neighborhood grocer—was also a member of the prestigious Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame.

It was so surprising, I had to take a step back and look again at the sign above the photo gallery. Why hadn’t I known this?

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One Response to The Aviatrix

  1. Ferril Fedde - Reply

    January 24, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Dick, Neat stories; had no idea you had such a flair for the written word. I worked in the hay fields of both the front and back side of Bennett Mountain over 50 years ago. Even caught fish by the old saw mill. Interested to learn of Rock Creek.

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